Friday 9 December 2016

Fibre-rich foods stave off disease

Published 13/10/2015 | 02:30

A Mediterranean diet has a low intake of saturated fat. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto
A Mediterranean diet has a low intake of saturated fat. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Eating a lot of fibre-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, and legumes - typical of a Mediterranean diet - is linked to a rise in health-promoting short chain fatty acids, according to Irish research.

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Short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are linked to reducing inflammatory diseases, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers a the Microbiome Institute in UCC gathered a week's information on the typical daily diet of 153 adults who either ate everything (omnivores, 51), or were vegetarians (51), or vegans (51), and living in four geographically-distant cities in Italy.

They also assessed the levels of gut bacteria and the 'chemical fingerprints' of cellular processes (metabolites) in their stool and urine samples.

The Mediterranean diet is characterised by high intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and cereals; moderately high intake of fish; regular but moderate alcohol consumption; and low intake of saturated fat, red meat, and dairy products.

Most (88pc) of the vegans, almost two thirds of the vegetarians (65pc), and around a third (30pc) of the omnivores consistently ate a predominantly Mediterranean diet. The investigation showed distinct patterns of microbial colonisation according to usual dietary intake.

Writing in the journal Gut, they said: "Western omnivore diets are not necessarily detrimental when a certain consumption level of [plant] foods is included."

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